The Benefits of Plantains
Health Benefits of Plantains
Plantains are a solid source of carbohydrates with a low fat content, but they also provide a number of other health benefits as well. Plus, they don’t contain any significant levels of toxins. (3)
1. Great Source of Potassium
There are 913 milligrams of potassium in one cup of cooked, mashed plantains. That accounts for about 20 percent of your recommended daily amount of potassium, making plantains one of the most potassium-rich foods on the planet. Potassium is the third-most abundant mineral in the body, but when depleted, low potassium can affect the function of a number of organs and processes.
Potassium is an electrolyte and is affected greatly by the amount of sodium in the body. Potassium plays a major role in regulating blood pressure because it combats the effects of sodium. Many Western diets include too much sodium, which means we could all use more sources of potassium. Snacking on plantains or adding them as a side dish are delicious ways to reach your daily potassium goals and help naturally remedy high blood pressure.
Potassium levels also affect skeletal and smooth muscle contraction, which allows for regular digestive and muscular function. It also helps regulate heart rhythm, and studies show that people who consume diets with high potassium levels tend to be at a lower risk of stroke, osteoporosis and renal disease. (4)
2. Help Regulate the Digestive System
Fiber has a profound effect on the digestive system and plays a significant role in keeping it regular. One cup of plantains provides almost a fifth of the fiber recommended daily, which is roughly 25–30 grams. As a high-fiber food, plantains add bulk to food intake, which aids digestion.
That means, according to research from the University of Kentucky’s Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program, consuming plantains is a great way to relieve constipation and provide relief from hemorrhoids and digestive conditions like diverticulitis. (5)
Fiber also make you feel full, which can help with weight control. Thus, increasing intake of dietary fiber can also help enhance weight loss in obese individuals. Soluble fiber is also known to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure, which prevents heart disease (6). Fiber can also help stabilize blood sugar.
3. Reduce the Number of Harmful Free Radicals
Free radicals, which are made when your body breaks down food or when you are exposed to other harmful elements like tobacco smoke or radiation, play a part in aging, diseases and cancer. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that fights free radical damage.
A serving of plantains can provide over 35 percent of the vitamin C needed per day, making it one of the best vitamin C foods around. (7) The body can’t store vitamin C (excess is released in urine) or produce it independently, so getting the daily recommended amount is very important.
Vitamin C is one of the most powerful vitamins, as it has a hand in growing and repairing tissues all over the body. It’s involved in forming a protein used in making skin, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels, as well as maintaining cartilage, bones and teeth.
4. Boost the Immune System
Looking to boost your immune system? Then plantains are the perfect snack. They pack 36 percent of your daily recommended amount of vitamin A. As another powerful antioxidant, vitamin A provides a number of benefits to the body. Along with vitamin C, it helps control your immune response, which keeps illness at bay, and a number of important immune system responses rely on vitamin A to perform correctly. (8)
Vitamin A also has a large part in skin health and cell growth, and is a necessary element for wound healing. Cells that overreact to certain foods are the root of food allergies and ultimately cause inflammation. Vitamin A’s antioxidant properties can neutralize free radicals and help prevent inflammation caused by overreacting cells. It also helps with eye health and vision, especially in low light. (9)
5. Promote Healthy Brain Function
Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, generates several important neurotransmitters that carry information from one cell to another. A serving of plantains can provide up to 24 percent of your daily amount needed of vitamin B6.
Vitamin B6 benefits healthy brain function and, according to research published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, helps make hormones like serotonin and norepinephrine, which keep moods stable, and melatonin, which regulates the body’s clock. (10)
Homocysteine levels (an amino acid linked to heart disease and nervous system damage) are also controlled by vitamin B6. The vitamin keeps levels low to help prevent damage and maintain the health of blood vessels.
This vitamin in plantains is one of the eight B vitamins that aid in processing food into energy and metabolizing fats. Similar to vitamin A, B6 also helps slow the onset of eye diseases like macular degeneration. It works with B12 to produce red blood cells and cells in the immune system. Boosted levels of vitamin B6 are also linked to prevention or decrease of rheumatoid arthritis symptoms.
6. Great Source of Magnesium
Magnesium deficiency is a very common problem thanks to Western diets and depleted soil due to overfarming. Plantains offer about 16 percent of your daily need for magnesium, which is especially important because magnesium affects over 300 biochemical reactions in the body.
From helping to regulate blood pressure to preventing osteoporosis, there are many ways magnesium keeps the body healthy. Magnesium directly affects calcium absorption, which can avert or reverse osteoporosis. It also lowers the risk of getting type 2 diabetes by controlling blood glucose levels via carbohydrate metabolism and insulin regulation. Magnesium has also long been used to help with migraine headaches, insomnia and depression. (11, 12)
7. Prevent Aspirin-Induced Ulcers
In a study from the International Journal of Research in Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences, dried plantain powder showed a significant ulcer-healing effect on an aspirin-induced gastric ulcer. Individuals who use nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug therapy for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and chronic pain are at high risk for developing ulcers in the membrane layer of the stomach. According to the study, dried plantain is able to stimulate the growth of the inner lining of the stomach. (13)